Rancho Santa Fe dancer earns prestigious award at ballet competition


Rancho Santa Fe resident Michelle Kenyon recently won the Hope Award during competition with the YAGP (Youth America Grand Prix), which is the largest student ballet competition in the world, with competitions held at 11 venues in 2012, within the USA, Asia and Europe.

Michelle competed with students from California, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. There are 12 “winners” in the pre-competitive dance competition, all of whom are welcomed on stage. Once on stage, the top three winners are announced and, occasionally, when a certain dancer is considered to have the potential to become a world-class dancer, the Hope Award is given to that male or female dancer at the competition.

In the 16-year history of YAGP competitions, only two dancers from San Diego have received the Hope Award. Having won the Hope Award, Michelle has been invited to compete in the final competition this April in New York City, where she will compete against dancers from the USA, Asia and Europe.

Michelle, now 11, has danced since she was 3 years old and practices for five hours each day, six days a week. She dances at the Ballet Arte studio in Solana Beach under the direction of Erlends Zieminch and Sara Viale, both highly renowned artists who have danced throughout the world and have won world-wide acclaim in some of the most respected venues.

Launched in 1999 by two former dancers of the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet, Larissa and Gennadi Saveliev, Youth America Grand Prix is also a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization created with a mission to “provide extraordinary educational and professional opportunities to young dancers, acting as a stepping stone to a professional dance career.” For more information, visit